With all the changes going on around him, Georgia Southern’s Dion DuBose feels pretty good about his situation.
While position changes, new playbooks and new techniques are happening all around him on both sides of the ball, DuBose is in a fairly comfortable situation – a middle linebacker is a middle linebacker.
Still, defending the triple option every day can be tough, so it’s good to have a fourth lineman out there.
“We’ve got more linemen locked up, and we’re playing a one-gap fit, so we get straight to the ball a lot faster,” said DuBose. “Defense is defense, that’s how I feel about it. (The new coaches) came out here with a new attitude, a new mentality, so it’s good. It’s a grind. You’re hitting non-stop, and you’ve got to battle in the trenches every play, but we’re working hard on both sides of the ball. They’re coming out running and with the defense, new installation every day, we’re just trying to feed off of that.”
“We have more time to react, sit back, see the pass, play the play-action, play the run better,” added will linebacker Josh Rowe about the four-man defensive line.
The extra size in the trenches allows for better penetration up front, too.
“With three linemen, your linebackers are taking on (offensive) linemen,” said linebackers coach Shawn Quinn. “Being a 4-3, we just gain an extra big body in the box, freeing up a guy like (defensive tackle) Brent Russell to get a lot more single blocks.”
The new offense can help out with the defense, too. By the time the 2010 season rolls around the Eagles will have seen just about every type of run an opposing offense can call.
“Having run it at different places, we feel like (the 4-3 is) a defense that allows you to adjust to different styles,” Quinn said. “Obviously the option is an extremely challenging style, and for us putting a new defense in we’re facing as tough a system to learn it against. As far as coaching linebackers, it probably challenges you more than any other offense.”
In the new system, the middle linebacker and weak-side backer focus more inside the box and the bandit – a cross between a linebacker and a safety – defends more like a nickel back and puts more focus on outside coverage.
“All three of them play inside the box,” Quinn said. “(The bandit) may be more of a coverage guy whereas the will may be more of a run-type player. The mike is a true middle linebacker.”
Figuring out which players fit into each position has been challenging for the coaching staff, which will get a better idea of the depth chart Saturday when the team has its first scrimmage at Paulson Stadium at 9 a.m.
“There’s just guys that fit inside the box, and others that fit outside the box,” said head coach Jeff Monken. “We’re trying to sort that out right now, figure out who the best inside guys are and who the best ones are outside.”
Meanwhile, the players are having a blast practicing against the new offensive scheme.
“It’s tough but it’s fun, and that’s the biggest thing,” said Rowe. “It’s tough seeing different things – misdirection, tosses, dives every single play – but it’s fun. I like the option. I’m a big fan of the option, but I like the spread too. I’m a fan of whatever we do. I take it and run with it.”
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.